We drove from Westport on the north-east coast of New Zealand down highway 6 towards Greymouth, both towns we were advised to avoid (not much there but a Brewery), with high expectations on the scenic route. It didn’t disappoint.
The previous night we stayed at a lovely campsite in Charleston, ate dinner watching kids play an entertaining, wholly one-sided game of cricket. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the fielding team who seemed to only have about two players, stood looking dejected, while seven batsman waited to take their turn to make them fetch the ball again.
We wandered out to take in the local entertainment, a small bar and community club. We were greeted by eight blokes staring wide-eyed that four strangers had dared enter there cosy little establishment. I have never felt less welcome anywhere. We waited by the bar wondering what to sample tonight…and waited. After about 10 minutes the barman decided he was left with no choice but to saunter over and see what we crazy foreigners wanted. “Do you have any draught beer?”, Ruth asks. He looks at her with disdain and replies “Well, yeah, but bottles are easier. Less washing up.” Fair enough then. We all end up with the same apart from Ruth’s sister Jane who asks for something like ginger beer. You can imagine the response that got.
About an hour later though as we sat playing cards the owner surprised us with a plate of pies, sausage rolls and ketchup on the house saying quietly “Don’t mind him”. Every cloud and all that!
Once again we held onto our jaws the following day as we drove along this spectacular winding road, about halfway along which has two splendid little stop-offs to break up the journey. The first was the Truman Track, a short 30 minute walk that packs in sub-alpine forest along with a great beach and waves crashing into rocks, as well as plenty of wildlife.
The second stop of the day was at Punakaiki to see the pancake rocks, a must see along the coastline. Eroded limestone rocks with huge blow holes propelling the sea water into the air as well as the stunning view were fabulous.
We finished up the day in Hans Bay at a DOC (Department of Conservation) campsite. I can’t rave about these enough. They’ve chosen some really beautiful spots for these sites and arranged a pretty stunning sunset for us to boot. Take a look at the photos to see what I’m on about.
Next up, the Franz Josef glacier!